The new promising crypto-currency technology ZCash is nearing its first release (due on October 28, 2016). ZCash is a crypto-currency promising to deliver features not yet available in other similar currencies: a very high level of privacy and anonymity. ZCash transaction details (sender, receiver and amount transferred) are only visible to the sender and receiver but not to other parties. Privacy is ensured by the use of advanced cryptography that allows transactions to be transmitted in a public blockchain without their essential details becoming publicly known.
Ever since Bitcoin was released 7 years ago, we have witnessed exciting developments in the field of blockchain and crypto-currency. Bitcoin and related crypto-currencies have made it possible to conduct virtual money transactions over the Internet in ways that were thought impossible before. Micro-payments, “unregulated markets”, and different forms of private virtual money have made the landscape both interesting and exciting. With all the opportunities it provides and risks it poses the field of crypto-currency has become a kind of 21st century “Wild West” of the financial system… only this time instead of bank robberies by rogue cowboys we have theft of virtual money by malevolent hackers. Incidents like MtGox have certainly made headlines.
Crypto-currencies based on a public blockchain have historically had one major privacy flaw: all transactions details such as sender/receiver address and amount transferred are publicly visible. While the real identity of the sender/receiver is not immediately clear, information may be gathered from other sources and their identity revealed via modern automated methods of analysis. Thus crypto-currency is an imperfect tool for the likes of libertarians, anarcho-capitalists etc. Crypto-currencies that offer privacy/anonymity via mixing and obfuscation of transactions have existed for some time. Examples of these are Dash and Monero. The next (r)evolutionary step in the development of privacy-oriented virtual money is ZCash.